Major concerns over funding for St Christopher’s Services emerged during the organisation’s AGM last week.
Pat O’Toole, CEO, said not only were there concerns over funding, but St Christopher’s was also losing staff because of the emergence of uncertainties over the future of the organisation, because of funding issues.
Speaking to the Leader, Mr O’Toole said, that uncertainty was directly linked to the fact that there was no certainty over securing necessary funds.
“The HSE is recruiting again, but people are not coming to our services for jobs because of that uncertainty,” he added.
“We are having a particular problem trying to get nurses and social care staff, but we are hopeful that in the next week or two, we will be in a position to get our finances back on track.
“It is regrettable that we are now beginning to lose some of our staff to other agencies and the HSE; this I feel is attributable to the lack of certainty with our current financial situation.”
Professor Mary McCarron, the principal researcher in the Intellectual Disability Supplement
(IDS) to the Irish Longitudinal Study on Ageing (Tilda) also spoke on the night.
She said this was the first time in living history that data was available on the medical needs of people with intellectual disabilities as they age.
This, she added, means that major challenges face organisation’s like St Christopher’s Services because the needs of clients must be met on all levels.
Speaking to the Leader about those challenges, Mr O’Toole said that while the new data would allow for positive change in the lives of people with intellectual disabilities - in terms of their physical and mental health - additional pressures to provide the necessary resources in tandem with that would also be placed on St Christopher’s.
“We have challenges, there is no doubt about that, but I believe that if we can get our finances back on track here, and get the staff we need, then we can all be very confident about the services future,” added Mr O’Toole.
“Many changes have occurred in response to the ageing and changing levels of support and care needs of residents and we continue to respond by placing additional resources.”
Meanwhile, the AGM heard that the HSE had already outlined a course of action to be implemented in an effort to address the challenges being faced by disability services providers in the Longford/Westmeath area.
As an interim measure, the health body provided €250,000 in December to help ease the cash flow difficulties, the meeting was told.
“Despite the cash injection, 2015 proved to be a very challenging year, financially,” Mr O’Toole stated.
“If the €250,000 had gone into our baseline funding in January - rather than on a once-off basis - it would have made a considerable difference as the majority of our under-funding relates to recurring costs.
“It is hoped that whatever additional funding we receive as a result of the Service Improvement Team deliberations, will be provided on an on-going basis rather than once-off.”
St Christopher’s Residential and Respite Services, which comprises of fourteen locations located throughout the county was also discussed on the night.
The AGM heard the facility supports thirty four people on a full and part time basis as well as six on a part time basis.
“Through a process with Longford County Council which commenced in 2014, we acquired a property in 2015, which will provide an opportunity for two future tenants to have their own
home,” Mr O’Toole concluded.